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Most writers who work in a specific genre such as science fiction or detective stories write with a comfortable narrowness, their ambitions constricted by well-worn conventions; a rare few attain something much deeper, as the scope of their explorations and the originality of their prose operate in a kind of tension with the genre's confines. Ross Macdonald is one such writer. In a series of 25 novels written between 1944 and 1976, all but five featuring Lew Archer as protagonist, Macdonald picked up the baton dropped by Raymond Chandler and Dashiell Hammett and took the genre to new heights.
The Drowning Pool, first published in 1950, is the second Lew Archer novel. It opens in classic hard-boiled fashion, with a well-dressed woman hesitantly engaging Archer's services at his L.A. office. Soon he's digging up secrets in her oil-rich hometown, and the themes that preoccupied Macdonald throughout his career begin to emerge: tormented families, buried secrets that fester through multiple generations, environmental destruction, concealed paternity, and the brutal contrast between rich and poor. Macdonald's later novels--including The Galton Case (1959), The Chill (1964), and The Underground Man (1971)--showed increased maturity and a tone less tied to tradition, but The Drowning Pool returns to the virtues that are the hallmarks of Mcdonald's work: complex and compelling plotting, psychological depth, just enough mayhem, and highly economical prose that routinely rises to something near poetry.
Published in 1965, 1963, and 1950, respectively, this trio feature Macdonald's hard-boiled private detective Lew Archer. The plots involve murder, deceit, blackmail, sex, and all those other goodies that make for great crime stories.
Copyright 1996 Reed Business Information, Inc.